Protected by ancient walls with seven fortifying towers, Alghero lies between the sea and a green hinterland of olive trees and vines. Although well geared for tourism with its excellent fish restaurants and countless little shops in the Centro Storico (Old Town), it retains an unhurried charm. With long beaches of soft sand stretching along its winding coastline, sheltered by quiet pine forests and dotted with bars and hotels, it offers a relaxing holiday mix of sun, sea, sand and small city charm.
In the citadel’s web of narrow streets, washing hangs beneath the shuttered windows of tall, tightly packed houses and peeling stucco reveal the ancient stone of buildings inhabited for 800 years. Street names are in Italian and Catalan, a dialect that has been spoken here since the 13th century.
Bars and restaurants spill out onto cobbled streets and little piazzas, their tables shaded by stylish cream umbrellas. They line the great ramparts, too, affording grand views and cooling sea breezes.
The real magic of Alghero comes with the sunset. To stroll along the walls, or sit at a bar and watch the old city’s buildings glow a peachy-apricot colour as the sun sets in a ball of orange fire behind the headland across the bay is one of life’s special pleasures. Get an outdoor table at one of the rampart restaurants, to dine by flickering candlelight, and the romance is complete.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria
The 16th-century Duomo is mainly Catalan-Gothic and Renaissance, although you wouldn’t guess that from its Doric-columned frontage. Inside are peach-coloured walls, 18th-century chapels, and impressive Baroque marble balustrades before the statue-filled high altar.
Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art
This art museum is located in the former Rosario church, next to the Cathedral, and it is the ideal setting for an array of priceless religious art. They also showcase African sacred paintings and art works.
Diva Café serves good coffee in the afternoon and excellent cocktails in the evening. It is also a great place to have a drink while enjoying the outside television entertainment.
Good to know
Alghero’s Old Town is made for walking, but there are also five different lines (A.R.S.T.) connecting the different areas across town. You can buy tickets at tabacchi, or from the ticket office inside “Giuseppe Manno" Public Gardens at via Catalogna. Remember to always validate your ticket when you board the vehicle. There are also lines to some of the tourist towns and beaches in the surrounding area. A train also connects Cagliari to Sassari with a branch line to Olbia. Tickets may be booked online at www.trenitalia.com.
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